Stick to It: The Benefits of Chewing Sugarless Gum
Let’s pop one myth: it’s not cracking, popping or blowing bubbles with gum that can make it something of a health boost to your kids. Simply chewing it, though, actually can help prevent cavities.
Here’s how it works: The gum, to start, has to be sugarless. The only chewing gums endorsed by the American Dental Association shown to prevent cavities are those that contain the sugar substitute xylitol. Studies show that when children as young as five and six chew xylitol-sweetened gum after meals, the cavity-prevention benefits can last for years, even after the habit has been discontinued.
Next, your child has to chew the gum for a good solid while, approximately 10 to 20 minutes after a meal. The goal is to increase saliva flow, which will happen as your child chews.
This added saliva has numerous benefits. First, it physically helps to wash away small particles of food left on the teeth. Less food means less sugar for cavity-causing bacteria to feed upon. Too, compounds in the saliva can neutralize acids in the mouth—produced by those pesky bacteria—that can otherwise cause tooth enamel to deteriorate. The saliva also transports to the teeth some general antibacterial compounds, as well as tooth strengtheners like calcium and phosphate.
Is there a downside to gum-chewing (besides the possible audible annoyances)? You and your children should avoid fruit-flavored sugarless gum, because the acids in the flavorings can contribute to decay, instead of helping to prevent it.
It’s crucial, in the end, that your whole family remember this: Chewing sugarless gum absolutely does not substitute for brushing at least twice a day and flossing once daily. It is only an additional tool to help prevent cavities.
If you have further questions regarding the benefits of sugarless gum, click here to schedule an appointment with Dr. Jared. Or give us a call at (509)-891-7070.